Los Angeles County Sheriff's sued for $50 million for killing 80-year-old man in "meth raid" that found no meth

Brian Doherty of Hit & Run: "As I've written before, even law-and-order types should be concerned with reckless and murderous police tactics that lead to innocent citizens' deaths, because they can be expensive for local governments (that is, for local taxpayers) when aggrieved citizens fight back their only legal way: with lawsuits."

On the morning of June 27, detectives raided the couple’s home in unincorporated Littlerock, serving a search warrant granted because the property allegedly smelled of the ingredients used to make methamphetamine, according to sheriff’s department officials.

Police found no meth, nor evidence of a meth operation, inside the house. They did find marijuana — in Pate’s son’s room.

The sheriff’s department insists that the marijuana vindicates the raid.

“There was a drug operation that was certainly going on in this house,” said Whitmore.

All in all, it was a bad week of press for Los Angeles cops. One L.A. police lieutenant was arrested for soliciting a prostitute, and another officer has been temporarily relieved of duty after firing his gun in an effort to scare some kids who were bothering him.

Widow to Sue Over Fatal Shooting of Husband, 80, by Sheriff’s Deputies

Notable Replies

  1. There are several reasons to seek damages. For one, that man's family deserves some kind of compensation for the way they were wronged. For another, punitive damages might help prompt the Sheriff's department* to change their tactics in the future. This case wasn't a matter of one murderous cop going rogue, it's a matter of several cops acting on standing policy.

    *Yes, it's ultimately the taxpayer's money. But taxpayers and government officials are more likely to demand change and fire some bad cops when they get hit in the pocketbook.

  2. IMB says:

    If not pot, they would have found some other justification. When have you ever heard about the first words from a police dept, after such a tragedy, being, "We made gross errors in judgment and execution, no one should have been shot, this man's home shouldn't have been raided. We deeply regret our actions"?

  3. If finding marijuana constitutes a drug operation,
    Does finding a 6pack of beer constitute a moonshining operation?
    Does finding a socket wrench set constitute a chop shop operation?
    Does finding a gun constitute an arms dealing operation?

  4. If they need it to, Yes

  5. Why would she necessarily have to prove that? It would certainly help; but in any jurisdiction where use of deadly force is permitted to defend yourself from imminent and not otherwise escapable harm, pointing a gun at people who break down your door by surprise at some ghastly hour is an entirely legal (indeed, frequently valorized) activity.

    Conducting a no-knock raid (and on such dreadfully flimsy "evidence" no less, is deliberately and knowingly creating a volatile and potentially lethal situation in a way that just knocking on the guy's door, or calling him and telling him to come outside, or hailing him with a loudspeaker, or about a zillion other not-terribly-difficult approaches aren't.

    Cop-immunity is a hell of a drug, so it wouldn't surprise me if they get off with a slap on the wrist; but that doesn't change the fact that the cops knowingly and deliberately created a situation indistinguishable from armed home invasion(because, for the most part, it was...). The resident doesn't have any special duty to not self-defend because the gunmen he can probably barely see might be cops rather than robbers, and it's the cops who knew full well, before they went in, that their behavior was virtually certain to trigger a self-defense response in anyone who has one (that's why they always bring the flashbangs, body armor, and overwhelming force to the no-knock raids).

    As noted, it would certainly help their jury-appeal if evidence turns up that they just pumped a harmless old guy full of bullets; but the police conduct in that situation would still be deplorable even if (by some probabilistic quirk) the victim had managed to terminate the entire raid team without taking a scratch.

Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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